#AskDJV Episode 58 – Hotel Reputation Management HSMAI Panel Discussion

#AskDJV Episode 58 - Hotel Reputation ManagementHello Everybody and welcome to the #AskDJV show. This is episode 58! I’m so glad you joined us today. On this week’s episode, we’re going to do something a little bit different.

I was on a panel discussion just a few weeks ago, on the HSMAI Greater New York (Hotel Sales & Marketing Association) related to Hotel Reputation Management and Best Practices and we had a hotelier with me as well as someone from TripAdvisor.  So, the first question was:

What can hotels do to encourage more hotel reviews from their customers?

It’s very simple. You need to ask your customers. As someone is checking out at your front desk, it takes less than 10 seconds to say, “Have you enjoyed your stay?” and they say, “Yes” and you can see how they are excited and they enjoyed their stay. “Would you mind please going to TripAdvisor?” “Here’s a little card with the website address on it and leave us a review?” “We’d greatly appreciate that.”

Also TripAdvisor has their own tools that you can download from your business account and actually go in there and see all of the resources they have, to actually help you to acquire more reviews for your website.

What Reviews Should Hotels Respond To?

Was another question, one that we get asked all the time. Our belief is that you should always respond to positive and negative reviews. All reviews, period. The first reason is because you want to show that you appreciate the time that someone took to write a review and you’re now coming along and responding because you’re showing that attention to detail, if you will, on responding to that review.

But the really, really, really, important reason you want to respond to all reviews is because you’re not really just writing it for the person who read the review. 93% of consumers will visit review websites before booking a hotel website. That’s a stat that TripAdvisor just recently put out. So, with that in mind, you want to make sure that you’re writing it with the intent of the next person coming along actually seeing your response. It shows them you care and it gives you an opportunity to correct any negative situation that happened or to thank them for a positive review and pump up your positive vibe, if you will, for the new guest opportunities that come along.

Who Should Respond at the Hotel Level to Reviews?

It should come directly from the General Manager as far as the signature. You know, you may look to find assistance by a company like ours who actually provides review response services for hotels, we do that for 100’s of hotels, we’re the largest provider handling over 200,000 reviews a year.

But don’t forget Social Media. Facebook, Twitter, Google. Consumers are also leaving reviews on those platforms and it’s important as a hotelier that you are always watching for those. We have many hotels where we are actually seeing more Google reviews every month posted than on TripAdvisor. Next question that came up that was pretty important was, “What do you do?”:

How do you address a complaint, where someone is complaining about price?”

What you want to do is address the situation by providing the following:
• One is you want to state how compatible and comparable your pricing is to other hotels in the marketplace. So it’s important that you state that because you don’t want people to think, well, they could just go to another hotel and get a better price on WiFi or parking.
• You also then want to show them a solution. Present a solution where you can say to them, “You can go to our website and actually book a package that includes WiFi or free parking.”

Another question that came up on the panel was

How do you handle fake reviews that you believe are just from disgruntled employees or competitors?

Now, we’re not really seeing fake reviews that much and competitors going on there. Rest assured that TripAdvisor takes this very, very seriously and your option is to really go and contact your account manager at TripAdvisor and have them investigate that review and potentially remove it from their site.

The last question I’ll leave you with that was on the panel is

Should a hotel website have their own reviews on their own website?

And my answer to that is, “Absolutely.”

Because we know if someone leaves and goes to an OTA website, they may never come back. They may make a reservation for one of your competitors, on TripAdvisor, for example, or go to Expedia and check out the reviews there and decide to make a reservation there for one of your competitors. So you want to keep them on your website as much as possible.

There are many technologies out there available that will enable you to do that, they all have plug-ins that you can plug in, as well as other companies like ourselves have a service where you can also integrate a guest review system into your website.

So, there you have it, those are the questions that were asked at the Hotel Sales & Marketing Association luncheon last month and I’m happy to be able to share with you our responses and our point of view.

Please be sure to subscribe to this YouTube channel so that you can stay up to date as new videos come out. Thanks again for joining and we’ll see you next week. Take care.

#AskDJV Episode 57 – Live Chat and Live Chat Widgets on Hotel Websites

#AskDJV Episode 57 Live Chat WidgetsHello Everybody and welcome to the #AskDJV show.  This is episode 57 of the #AskDJV show.  Thank you so much for joining us this week.  On this week’s episode, I’d like to talk about live chat and live chat widgets on hotel websites

I’ve got 5 reasons, 5 top reasons why your hotel needs to have a live chat widget and service for your website customers.

5 Top Reasons Why Your Hotel Needs a Live Chat Widget on Your Website

Reason#1 – It Humanizes Your Brand

It enables you to make your brand human and to engage with another human being.  Someone wants an answer now, why not provide that to them? That will facilitate the booking.  It will create a loyal guest that says, “You know what?” “This hotel really cares about the engagement and connection with me, I’m going to give them a shot.”  “I may make a reservation.”

Reason#2 – You’re Providing Time Back to your Consumer

Specifically, you’re enabling your consumer to engage and interact with you on their time, not your time.  When you give back someone their time they will become very loyal to you, that’s for sure, 100%.

Reason#3 – You’re Going to Provide Answers in Real Time to what has traditionally been known as Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Now, you and I both know that many hotel websites, in fact your hotel website, may not have an FAQ page on it, shame on you, you should have that as a bare minimum.  But this takes it up a notch.  You’re providing real time FAQ service when the consumer wants it.

Reason#4 – You’re Going to Drive more RFP submissions through your website

Here’s an example:
A wedding couple about to get married a year from now is surfing through your website. Well, without FAQ’s their kinda left on their own, but if they have a wedding planning question, it’s easy for you to engage with them via live chat to enable that conversation, to push them to filling out an RFP form vs. leaving them on their own and having them go to potentially a competitor because you’re not there servicing them in a real-time human engagement and assisted sales support channel.

Reason#5 – and this is a BIG ONE Guys – You’re Avoiding Potential Crisis Situations

We have seen examples of people going to their hotel room, trying to figure out who they need to speak with, they’re very upset, they go on your website, well, we’re able to capture them in our live chat service and speak to them and calm them down and escalate that conversation to the General Manager because that crisis situation can blow up into a real nasty fight with your hotel and that consumer and it can be aired on TripAdvisor and other OTA websites.  So crisis escalation is something that you will capture through a live chat service as well.

Those are the 5 reasons why your hotel website needs to have a live chat service.  Now, if you can’t do it for yourself, we have a live chat for hotels.com website, you can check that out, livechatforhotels.com and you’ll be able to get information on what we can do to support you with our own live chat agents, 7 days a week, full coverage.
Thanks again for joining us on this week’s episode on the #AskDJV show.  Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel so you can be informed when new episodes come out.  Thanks again and we’ll see you next time.

Social Media Consumption and Your Hotel

At the risk of sounding like my father, there was a time when it would take months for news to reach the other side of the world but the Internet has brought the world closer and made it a smaller place. We literally now have the world at our fingertips.

In more recent years, the explosion of social media through platforms like Periscope, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook as well as instant messaging apps, we can have the latest news within minutes of an event happening anywhere in the world. It’s given a whole new meaning to the Wordsworth sonnet ‘The world is too much with us’.

What is media consumption?

Simply put, media consumption is the total amount of information and entertainment media that an individual or group has listened to or viewed. It traditionally included the likes of print (books, magazines, newspapers), television, film, music and video games.

It not only incorporates content but also the device through which the content is delivered. So media consumption has grown to include modern formats with use of cell phones, tablets, personal computers and social media networks. eMarketer’s latest report shows adults in the US now spend more than 12 hours a day consuming media. What makes usage so high is media multitasking. That is, a person can be on more than one media platform at the same time.

 

 

Social media consumption and your hotel

In recent years, there has been much research that has quantified just how much time we actually spend consuming media. According to a Nielsen study last year, television and radio are still the most popular medium among US adults and, with hand devices like smartphones and tablets, it has made it even easier to live stream our favorite shows, sports events or movies.

Pew Research showed that 65% of adults use at least one social networking site and not surprisingly, when it comes to teens and millennials, social media platforms are the preferred media. This younger crowd spends a lot of time watching television, playing video games, listening to music and checking social media. The average person spends almost 2 hours on social networks each day. 

With so many social media outlets available, the shift from traditional brand advertising to consumer centered marketing has empowered the consumer and influences how your hotel does business. The important things to remember are know your audience and what social media platforms they prefer. Adapting your marketing approach will make sure your hotel stays one step ahead of the competition.

#AskDJV Episode 56: Social Influencer Marketing – Part 2

Influencer Marketing = part 2

 

Hello Everybody, welcome to Episode 56 of the #AskDJV Show.  On this week’s episode, I want to continue the discussion as it relates to Social Media Influencer Marketing.

Now, as a hotelier, the way you deploy a Social Media Influencer program is multi-faceted.

The first thing you’re going to do is use Google to find someone of interest.  Someone you believe can properly represent your hotel in a professional, yet fun and informative manner to their followers.  You want to find someone who has a decent amount of followers on Instagram, on Twitter, etc., but not too many that they are going to charge you so much money for their services.  So you don’t want to look for a Kim Kardashian as I used in last week’s episode.

Social Media Influencers

You want to use what’s called a “micro influencer”.  These are folks who have anywhere from 3,4,5,000 followers up to maybe 40 or 50,000 followers.  That’s a more reasonable number for you to work with.  So identify those people, reach out to them and contact them and ask them if they’d be willing to work with you on an Influencer Campaign Plan with you and your property.  Once you get their acceptance, then you start thinking about what’s the strategy?  What am I trying to achieve with this Influencer Program?

Now, at first blush, you’re probably going to want to focus on branding and getting the word out about your hotel and share with people anything your website, your hotel has to offer.  So it’s going to be more of a branding exercise than a revenue exercise where you’re offering discounts.  The first step is to really get your brand out there amongst the various followers that this person can now provide visibility into your hotel.

Influencer Marketing Agreement

Once you’ve identified that scope of work, you then to have to enter into an agreement with that influencer and you’re going to negotiate back and forth, put together a written agreement as to what the deliverables are.  When they’re going to start working for you, when they’re going to end working for you.  The days they are going to visit and the days they are going to leave.  What they are going to do and what they are going to showcase at your property.  If you have a great pool, a great spa, tennis courts, golf course, you want to make sure you work that into the agreement so that the influencer showcases all of those different attributes and benefits of staying at your property.

Maybe come up with a storyboard. That’s what we do for our customers.  We create a complete storyboard from start to finish to actually let the hotelier and the influencer know what is expected in this overall program.  Once you’ve negotiated this with the influencer, the next step is to get them to your property, right?  You want to wine and dine them.  You want to assign someone from your staff to work with the influencer as they travel through your property or through your complex, as they are going on the tennis courts, as they are going to the beach or the swimming pool, etc.  The important thing is to stay out of their way.  They have their own followers who expect a certain personality from this influencer.  You don’t want to taint that or change that in any way, with you being too involved or too hands on.  So don’t micromanage the process, just be aware of what the deliverables are and make sure along the way there are checks and balances to make sure your influencer is doing what they need to do.

As the influencer goes about doing his or her work throughout the weekend at your property, filming instagram stories, snapchat stories, they are also going to take many pictures for you in what we call a “viro”.

Now, those viro images are what you are going to use to support this campaign for the next 60-90 days on an on-going basis.  So, it’s not a one-time shot, the influencer visiting your property, doing their thing and they’re gone.  It’s they do that and then you, your responsibility is to take that viro and repurpose it so that you can keep the campaign going for a good 30, 60, 90 days after the influencer has left.  That’s how you deploy Social Media Influencer Marketing.

Influencer Marketing Agency

If you need any help with that, our agency certainly is the leader in this space. We can help you as it relates to Hospitality Influencer Marketing.  Just get in touch with us and we’ll be glad to help you out and show you the way to go.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s episode, I hope you learned something on it.  Be sure to subscribe to the red YouTube button down below so that you can stay up to date as new episodes come out.

Thanks again for joining us this week and we’ll see you again next week!  Take care.

 

View Social Influencer Marketing – Part 1

Guest Expectations: Hotel Customer Relations Challenge

In this digital age, use of social networks has become the new word-of-mouth communication channels amongst peers. Spreading the news about your hotel’s handling of customer relations may have a new delivery method but it can still make or break your hotel’s reputation – only now it is in cyber space and much more far reaching!

Whether your guests are Millennials, GenX or baby boomers, each group has different expectations from their hotel stay and want to be reached through different social channels.  This presents a challenge for hotels to provide exceptional customer service to the different demographics of each group.

 

Hotel Customer Relations

The string that binds hotels with these different groups is delivering high-quality customer service. What hotel wants to turn away bookings or future bookings? The answer is right in your hands! If guests perceive your hotel in a bad light, the ramifications of poor customer service will inevitably lead to a bad reputation and loss in sales. But you can turn this around by ensuring you listen to your guests needs, handle the issues – big or small – with speed, respect and graciousness.

eMarketer chart of people who have stopped doing business with companies due to poor customer relations

 

Going above and beyond to help make your guest’s experience a memorable one shows your hotel provides value to your guests so that they make the original booking and keep coming back again and again.  It all comes down to hotel customer relations with your guests. No matter the age, how well you treat your guest means great reviews, attracting potential guests and positively affecting your bottom line.

To be heard, one must first learn to listen

Listening to each group’s needs and wants is the key to providing great customer service. Who doesn’t want to feel special? Whether it’s the millennial looking for the next happening eatery or the baby boomer looking for a fun activity to share with their family, carefully listening to the expectations and feed back of each group is the best way to successfully manage them.

Provide the unique guest experience

When choosing a hotel, today’s guests want that special experience and the human-touch that makes them feel connected. If your hotel embraces the neighborhood, taking in every bit of the area and extending the uniqueness of your community out to guests, it would provide a personalized experience your guest will not forget.

Accommodate guest lifestyle preferences and expectations

There is a definite shift in preferences and expectations of today’s hotel guest. There is a service-oriented lifestyle together with the need to be engaged and entertained.  There is a desire for the human-to-human factor that makes a guest hotel stay comforting and welcoming. The saying goes home is where the heart is. Make your guests love their hotel stay by showing them your hotel is not traditional and stagnant but is warm and inviting. It is the relationship you build with your guests that will make your hotel be the “it” place to be.

In the end, the best way to handle guest expectations, no matter the demographics, is ensure you provide the best quality customer service. Your hotel will become the destination point that provides the personal, authentic experience today’s hotel guest expects and craves. Hotel marketers need to be mindful of this and adapt hotel marketing strategies to meet the challenge.

Include Video in Your Hotel’s 2017 Social Media Marketing Plans

Visual content social media marketing speaks volumes and video is the most powerful storytelling tool your hotel can include in your 2017 social media marketing plans arsenal. Through video, hotel digital marketers have a great opportunity to build guest loyalty, raise brand awareness, increase engagements and leverage your hotel’s place in this medium.

Video Marketing for Hotels

Trends are continuing to show that video marketing for hotels should have a significant role in your hotel marketing strategy and budget. Some recent Cisco predictions state that advertising spend is expected to grow by 31% in 2017 and, by the year 2020, 80% of internet traffic will be video.

  • 500 million people are watching Facebook videos every day.
  • 82% of Twitter users regularly watch video content on Twitter.
  • 33% of tablet owners watch about an hour of video on their devices
  • 28% of smartphone users watch a video on their devices at least once a day.

Hotel video message clear and relevant

Don’t forget to keep your hotel video message clear and relevant to your target audience. Videos can be incredibly engaging, helping you to build a bond between your hotel and your guest as well as be shared with people within your guest’s networks. But video is not just YouTube anymore. The best place to share videos and gain exposure for your hotel is through social media channels like Facebook Live, Instagram stories, Twitter and Snapchat stories. Telling a story about your hotel, local attractions and/or staff through video will provide guests with good experiences that can make an impactful impression.

The new marketing is all about personalization and building relationships by offering a great guest experience. Hotels that focus on considerate and compassionate visual content marketing will touch guests’ hearts and minds every time. There is great potential for guests to make purchasing decisions based on the emotional connection they make with your hotel.

There is no special script. Stay one step ahead of the competition and use video to bring your message home to your guests and future guests.  There is power in adding video to your social media marketing plans.

Hotel Marketing Trend – Video Rules!

video image

 

When the Buggles presented their music video hit “Video Killed the Radio Star” in 1979, there was somewhat of a premonition for what role video would play in our lives going forward.  The internet became accessible to everyone and opened a pathway to social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Periscope and Instagram – all providing visuals that capture everyone’s attention and endless opportunities for hotels.

 

It’s a known fact that people will remember 80% of what they see versus only 20% of what they read. With video, being present in the moment without actually being at the hotel will resonate with the potential guest who makes purchasing decisions based on the emotional connection to your hotel visuals.

 

So it’s not a far stretch to see why this trend toward video presents all kinds of possibilities for the hotel digital marketer to build guest loyalty, raise brand awareness, increase engagements and leverage a hotel’s place in this medium.

 

A recent Cisco Systems study shows that, by 2019, video will account for 80% of all internet traffic. Instagram has at least one photo or video posted 73% of the time each week.  YouTube has become the #2 search engine right after Google. Facebook has been vying for a piece of the action by introducing its video platform, Facebook Live earlier this year that promises to rival YouTube. Then Facebook upped the ante in August by starting to test live stream ads.

 

The growing interest in video has sparked a consideration of budgeting dollars toward video marketing and advertising. If you haven’t already, hotel digital marketers should consider video as part of their overall marketing strategy & make video spending a part of their budget.  

 

Hotels can drive home a powerful response, increase chances for conversions and create a more personal relationship with guests and potential guests through the best storytelling medium there is – video!  So be heard. What’s your hotel’s story?

Content Marketing: Video Trends 2016 and Beyond

A picture is worth a thousand words and, when it comes to content marketing for hotels, video speaks volumes. Brands that cleverly focus on considerate and compassionate visual content marketing glide right into the hearts and minds of customers. After all, these customers are making purchasing decisions based on their personal or emotional connection to the brand.

 

Something unique to video viewing is that it provides a feeling of being in the moment without physically being present. People will always remember how something they saw made them feel and videos are the perfect medium for hotels to evoke an emotional response and help build brand loyalty. This emotional response is just as valuable to a hotel as the more traditional sales driven campaigns since it provides a spark that can fuel the discussion about your hotel’s values and culture.

 

2015 saw a dramatic increase in visual content marketing over previous years and the trend is continuing full force into 2016 and beyond. YouTube has become the #2 search engine right behind Google and video ad spend is on the rise. A Cisco forecast says video will account for 80 percent of total internet traffic by 2019. More recently, Google commissioned studies and survey findings say:

 

  • 6 out of 10 people prefer online video platforms to live TV
  • 8 out of 10 eighteen to forty-nine year olds watch YouTube
  • In 2015, 18 to 49 year olds spent 4% less time watching TV while time on YouTube went up 74%
  • On mobile alone, YouTube reaches more 18 to 49 year olds than any broadcast or cable TV network.
  • Among millennials, YouTube accounts for two-thirds of the premium online video watched across devices.
  • The time people spend watching YouTube on their TV has more than doubled year over year.

 

There is no doubt that it’s important to increase your hotel’s output of video content but, when you create your own video, always remember to keep it real and relevant. Some suggestions to consider:

  • Designate a hotel representative to use their cell phones to take videos around the hotel’s neighborhood
  • Give a virtual tour of your hotel giving viewers a first hand experience of your property
  • Create a day-in-the-life video of a hotel employee
  • Interview guests for a video testimonial (with permission granted)
  • Create your own YouTube channel with a link to your hotel website
  • If your hotel participates in a social initiative, put together a video to show your hotel’s earnest concern and passion on the subject

 

Trends are showing that video should have a significant role in your marketing strategy and budget. If you already haven’t, start making video content a part of your hotel’s overall marketing strategy keeping it real, relevant and timely.

5 Ways to Use Social Media as a Gateway to Effective Customer Service

When it comes to social media, attracting new customers and capitalizing on this effort is what hospitality industry marketers have in mind. We have reached a point in this ever-evolving communication medium where it is no longer a question of whether or not to use social media for customer service but how to use it effectively.

 

Today’s social media networks have become the perfect funnel through which customers try to get in touch with customer service representatives. To provide the best possible customer care you need to be active social media.  Which medium is best for your hotel will depend on your objectives as well as the size of your property and available resources.

 

There are plenty of advantageous measures that you can use to get started on your way to providing the best social media customer service:

 

  1. Communication: Say bye-bye to canned responses! Whether people have issues that need to be resolved or are just seeking out information, they want to be heard and to have the gratification of immediate responses. We have all experienced the challenges to finding that phone number/email/form to reach out to a customer service representative. Then once you have the contact, you find yourself greeted with a human robot spewing out pre-packaged (complete with bow) responses! By it’s very nature, social media allows you to communicate in a more casual, conversational tone. You can retain your brand voice all the while putting the “human”, personal relationship back into customer service.

 

  1. Reputation: You want to encourage more brand mentions and influence your online reputation since controlling it is no longer an option in today’s world. Making sure your representatives provide immediate responses with no lapses, ensures you are on your way to have it come back to your own brand. No matter if it is a concern, issue or comment, the more activity on social media networks, the more it helps your SEO rankings.

 

  1. Listening: People will always prefer a personal exchange with an individual representing a brand rather than hearing a “company” voice. So it’s important to bond with your guests and hone the art of listening. When you create dialogue and give people a more personal experience, you build their loyalty and they will call out your brand in social media. At the same time you show prospective customers you can quickly resolve issues.

 

  1. Commitment: Of course having a presence in social media is the first step but the real clincher to making yourself a customer service guru is your commitment.  That’s right! Being available 24/7/365. A hotel runs 24/7/365 and so should your customer service. After all, there could be nothing worse than a customer who reaches out to your hotel or comments about your property and then they hear nothing but crickets. The immediacy that is inherent in social media affords you the wonderful moments of providing your guest with the quick answer they expect and the personal attention they need.

 

  1. Follow through: There are some circumstances that might take a little longer to resolve so follow up is vital. You put so much effort into building the relationship so now you have to maintain it or risk having it backfire. Following up will give you the chance to know whether or not your guest is satisfied with the resolution or response. If yes then you have the opportunity to ask whether or not the exchange was helpful. If not, then you will have created the chance for taking further action showing your guest you would not abandon them or throw them back into another round in the customer service pool.

 

So, welcome to the “new” customer service where the focus is truly on the customer – their social network, their time, their needs. It’s an era of building relationships, earning loyalty and influencing your online presence.  It is no longer enough just to be present on social media sharing your latest promotion. Participate in a proactive, reactive and solution focused manner for those areas that need a resolution. Keep these basic points in mind and you’ll be a success with your customer service on social media – and make your customers happy.

Should Your Hotel Be Omnipresent On Social Media?

These days you hear a lot of so called social media marketing “experts” telling you that your hotel needs to be omnipresent on all the social media platforms.  That is, being everywhere all the time.  Some say, they love me while others hate me…but at least they know me.  While being omnipresent is financially out of reach for most properties, the hotel brands have devoted many resources to achieve omnipresence.

 

Watch Episode 45 of the #AskDJV video series below and make your own decision about being omnipresent.